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Gold Coast natural environment

We have one of Australia's most biodiverse cities. Let's explore, celebrate and work together to protect it for the future.

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Wetlands on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast boasts internationally regarded natural wetland areas, extensive mangrove habitat and estuarine wetlands lining our major rivers and creeks.

You can visit some of them at Beree-Badalla Reserve (Palm Beach), Boonooroo Park East (Carrara), Broadwater Parklands (small constructed wetlands), Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area, Coombabah Lakes Conservation Area – Arundel section, Emerald Lakes Wetlands, Gainsborough Environmental Reserve, Phil Hill Environmental Reserve, Pine Ridge Regional Park, Schuster Park (northern peninsula), Southern Stradbroke Island, Tarrabora Reserve, Varsity Lakes Wetlands Reserve.

Find out more at our Nature trails page.

One of the most significant wetlands here on the Gold Coast can be found at Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area. This wetland is the most southerly lake and coastal swamp land system in the South East Queensland bioregion, and the conservation area provides significant wildlife value and refuge habitat. Part of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and listed as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar convention, this wetland is one of only a handful of sites in Queensland that is internationally recognised. Coombabah Lake is also a declared Fish Habitat Area. 

Types of wetlands

Wetlands are just that – areas of land that are regularly wet. They are inundated by water and/or wet on a regular or semi-regular basis. The plants and animals living in them are adapted to, and often dependent on, these wet conditions for at least part of their life cycle.

There are three major types of wetlands on the Gold Coast:

  • Estuarine (tidal) wetlands – These wetlands fringe our coastal waterways and cover mud islands in our open estuaries. They are highly dynamic and are influenced by tides and floods. On the Gold Coast there are non-vegetated tidal areas such as mud flats, and vegetated area such as mangroves, saltmarshes and swamp oak forests. Some of these wetlands have been cleared for the development of marinas and other coastal infrastructure but it is estimated that more than 75% of these wetlands have been retained since European settlement.
  • Vegetated wetlands – Are wetlands in low-lying areas and are characterised by different wetland plants including trees, heaths, grasses, sedges and herbs. Extensively cleared and modified by the construction of the canal system and draining of the flood plains it is estimated that less than 10% of the vegetated wetlands that were present prior to European settlement remain. These remaining areas are of high ecological and economic value.
  • Riparian wetlands  – Occur along the edges of freshwater watercourses such as rivers, streams and creeks and waterbodies such as lakes and dams. Many of these wetlands have been cleared for farming or residential development It is estimated that less than 30% of the riparian wetlands that existed before European settlement remain.

We need wetlands!

Wetlands are a critical part of the Gold Coast’s natural infrastructure which means that they provide services to us just like infrastructure that we build such as seawalls, sewerage treatment plants and even amusement parks.


  • protect our shores from wave action
  • reduce the impacts of floods
  • absorb pollutants
  • improve water quality
  • store carbon and help us adapt to climate change
  • are nursery and breeding grounds for many species we rely on such as fish and prawns
  • provide us with beautiful places to experience and enjoy

Many wetland areas are culturally significant to Aboriginal people as a traditional and important source of food, as well as being sites for cultural ceremony.

Get involved

We all have a role in protecting our wetlands. There are many ways you can minimise the impact of your actions on wetlands, so their ecological, economic and social values are maintained:

Celebrate World Wetlands Day

Celebrated internationally on the 2 February every year. World Wetlands Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

When visiting wetlands

  • Stay on designated trails and boardwalks.
  • Do not feed native wildlife. Providing human food for native animals can attract pest species to the system and increase faecal waste, which affects water quality.
  • Try not to disturb native animals in their natural environment. Keep a sensible distance and observe animals quietly. This way, animals will act naturally and won't feel threatened.
  • The City’s conservation parks provide a much-needed refuge for native plants and animals. They are vitally important to the survival of many threatened species. Some of these parks are dog-prohibited to help protect and preserve these areas.

The City provides a range of programs that enable everyone to learn more and get involved:

Further information

For further information please contact us on 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326).

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